When I first started this novel, I didn’t like it. From the ending of INCARCERON, I expected a bit more of a honeymoon period for the characters who got their (sort of) “happily ever after” ending in the Outside. Instead, they are still miserable and mope around annoyingly. Fortunately, a great twist perks them (and the story) up around 120 pages in, bringing the novel back to the high level of the first book – at least in the Outside world scenes. Here, the storyline and underlying themes deal with illusion vs reality and how much of our experience is perception. We finally get to see some of the rot under all the illusion of perfection in the Outside world. As a peasant who lives in abject poverty explains, “Era is no pretence for us, no playing at the past with all its edges softened. It’s real. You play at history. We endure it.” (p 203)
I still had my issues with the Inside scenes in Incarceron being too high fantasy (which to me was just too boring). There is also a character introduced who claims to be a magician but who also may be crazy. I never warmed to him, and found his whole purpose and the mythology surrounding him and Sapphique’s glove to be muddled and not especially logical.
And then the ending, as weird as it is, is also kind of brilliant. A mix of dark desperation and a twinkling of hope. And in the end, I’m glad I stuck with it.
My rating – 2 Zombie Chickens: Enjoyable but not essential.
SAPPHIQUE is already out in the UK in paperback, but won’t be released in the US until 2011. Can’t wait that long? You can have my UK copy! Just tell me in the comments if you need both books or just SAPPHIQUE. I’ll keep the giveaway open until March 8th at 11:59 PM CST and anyone can enter (yes international!).